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Authors: Nonie Darwish

The Devil We Don't Know

BOOK: The Devil We Don't Know
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Title Page





Chapter 1: The Cycle of Dictatorships and Revolutions

Chapter 2: Why Islamic Revolutions Are Doomed to Fail

Chapter 3: A Muslim's Burden: How Islam Fails the Individual

Exaggeration, Lying, and Slander

Embarrassment in Translating the Koran


Minding One's Business

Reforming Others, Rather than Oneself

Blaming Others

The Sin of Admitting Sin

Redemption in Islam

Fear of “Torment of the Grave”

Believing in Two Opposite Views at the Same Time

Criminalization of Love and Beauty

Distrust of Novelty and the Other

Empathy and Compassion

The Duty of Protecting Mohammed's Honor

Chapter 4: Israel amid Islamic Tornadoes

Chapter 5: Exodus: The Rise of Islamic Apostasy

Chapter 6: Will the Arab Spring Usher In a Feminist Movement?

Chapter 7: Western Vulnerability

Chapter 8: House of Cards: The Downfall of Islam as We Know It




Copyright © 2012 by Nonie Darwish. All rights reserved

Lyrics to “Trading My Sorrows” on page 83 by Darrell Evans. Copyright © 1998 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (ASCAP) (adm. at All rights reserved. Used by permission. International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

Photo on page 126 from Al Azhar Mosque and University.

Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey
Published simultaneously in Canada

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:

Darwish, Nonie.
The devil we don’t know: the dark side of revolutions in the Middle East/Nonie Darwish. –1
p. cm.
Includes index.
ISBN 978-1-118-13339-2 (cloth); ISBN 978-111-8-19789-9 (ebk); ISBN 978-111-8-19790-5 (ebk); ISBN 978-111-8-19791-2 (ebk)
1. Middle East–Politics and government–21st century. 2. Revolutions–Middle East. 3. Islam and politics–Middle East. 4. Democratization–Middle East. I. Title.
DS63.18.D37 2012

To Mohammed and Mohammed, two talented young men who left Islam, but are unable to escape the hell of the Islamic state


I want to thank my three children for their smiles, love, and support. I especially want to thank my many friends in the Middle East, who kept me informed and inspired me with their courage and convictions.

I also thank my agent, Lynne Rabinoff, for her advice and professionalism.

I am very grateful to my editor Hana Lane, who brought out the best in what I wrote, and, of course, to my publisher, John Wiley and Sons, and all of the staff there for their talent and care.


Revolutions across the Middle East are rapidly unraveling before our eyes, telling us the sad truth that Islamic uprisings eventually crawl back to where they came from—back to tyranny. If anyone has any doubt as to the negative dynamics of sharia (the religious law of Islam) and its subversive effect on society, all that person needs to do is study Islamic revolutions and why they eventually fail to achieve their goals of freedom and democracy. If you believe that sharia is a harmless religious law that Muslims have the right to practice wherever they go, I advise you to take a front seat and watch the drama unfold. The reason Islamic revolutions end in failure is because sharia forbids freedom of speech and religion, as well as gender equality and religious equality, and will remove any ruler from office if he refuses to conduct jihad and advocates peace with non-Muslim nations.

Months after the revolution in Egypt, Tahrir Square is still full of rage, anger, and divisiveness, with huge crowds that are still demanding democracy. On July 29, 2011, secularists, who are the minority, planned a sit-in called “Friday of Popular Will and Unification” when they were overwhelmed by tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi groups, who called the event “Sharia Friday” and demanded an Islamic state.

Chants were heard: “Obama, Obama—we are all Osama.” A large poster read “You are in our hearts and we will never forget you” and showed photos of Osama bin Laden; Hamas Shaikh Ahmad Yassin; the Libyan fighter Omar Mukhtar; the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna; the leader of the Brotherhood who was assassinated by President Abdel Nasser, Sayyid Qutb; and the blind man Shaikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is being held in a U.S. prison. The square was full of Saudi flags symbolizing the Islamist state under Allah and the Islamic sword.

While most nations around the world have realized the failures of theocracy, many Muslims around the world are still carrying signs with the Muslim Brotherhood slogan “Islam is the solution.” This catchy phrase appeals to the Muslim masses, who have never learned the difference between religion and the political system, and whose votes in the coming elections across the Middle East will decide what kind of political system they will live under. If the slogan carries the day, any secular democracy movement in Cairo or other Arab capitals will be left at the mercy of the pro-sharia majority.

The trend in the Muslim world is toward restoring Allah's law as a political solution, to create the perfect Islamic state that many dream of and that never actually existed. In almost all Muslim countries that have freedom movements today, the constitutions are sharia-based, making it an act of apostasy to attempt to remove sharia from the future constitutions. Not one demonstrator in the streets of Cairo carried a sign asking for the removal of sharia from the new constitution of Egypt's future government, a government that people expect to miraculously bring them freedom and democracy.

The fourteen-hundred-year history of Islam tells us that Muslims have no confidence in secular government. The banner “Islam is the solution” itself holds democracy in contempt. The questions that Arab revolutionaries today must ask themselves include: Are Muslims confident and secure enough in their faith and its survival to stop requiring the government and the legal system to enforce Islam under penalty of death? Why do Muslims not dare remove sharia from their constitutions? Why do they dread letting go of total control of every aspect of a Muslim's life and the institutions that govern him? What is behind their fears and insecurity? What forces them to rely on government and not on the freedom of the Muslim individual to choose?

The purpose of this book is not simply to criticize Islam or point out Islam's failures in order to tear it down. First and foremost, I want to explain what lies behind the revolutions in the Middle East and to expose Islam for what it is: a belief system that will inevitably doom those revolutions. Islam and its sharia cannot coexist with freedom and democracy.

This book is also a plea for Muslims to face the truth as a first step toward fulfilling the aspirations of the young Muslim demonstrators all over the Middle East who are risking their lives and shedding their blood for freedom. It is a plea to take responsibility for Islam's bloody confrontation with non-Muslims and nations around the world. Muslims who truly love their religion and who want it to survive and thrive will put aside their pride and shame, lay down their guns, and honestly acknowledge the plight and challenges of Islam today, not only for themselves, but also for the rest of the world. Redemption, asking for forgiveness, and evolving to a better self are values that apply to everyone, every religion and ideology, if they are to stand the test of time. Islam and Muslims are no exception, and the whole world will stand in support of such a movement. In fact, this has already happened; we have seen people around the world praying for the success of the oppressed Muslim demonstrators across the Middle East. I, for one, wept with pride for my people and my culture of origin. Muslims who are willing to stand up and admit their imperfections to themselves and the world have nothing to fear. That is the most positive, constructive, and honorable thing Muslims can do today.

This book will not determine whether Islam can be reformed; only Muslims themselves can make that choice. Yet I will lay out the challenge that Muslims must take up to bring into being a much-needed reformation movement. Based on the truth, this movement must reject old patterns of behavior, such as denial, making excuses, finger-pointing, and a deep fear of being exposed to shame. Without welcoming the truth, any reformation of Islam will be doomed to failure. For Muslims to continue with the status quo will waste the heroic efforts of young Muslims who shed their blood in Tahrir Square and other countries in the Middle East. Insisting, as the Islamists do, that Islam's enormous problems are simply due to misinterpretation and misunderstanding will not save Muslims and the rest of the world from future bloody confrontations. This juvenile attitude will only exasperate Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Most people, myself included, don't want to criticize any religion, let alone the religion they were born into. Religion must be, first and foremost, a personal relationship with God. Yet if people acting in the name of religion expand its sphere of control until their country becomes a one-party totalitarian state, then these coreligionists have overstepped their bounds. If this state preserves an elaborate legal system that can put someone to death for disagreeing with sharia, then it is trampling on the human rights of its citizens. If this state has a military mandate called jihad that violates the sovereignty of non-Muslim countries, then Islam is no longer a private matter, immune from criticism. Islam placed itself in the realm of criticism the day it demanded to become a political system with imperialist aspirations. If an ideology, religious or secular, has assumed for itself such totalitarian rights over others, then others have the right to challenge, discredit, and defeat it.

Islam is challenging the world but has made it a crime for others to challenge it. This book will challenge Islam, not for the purpose of shaming Muslims, but to expose the truth and encourage reformation. Having seen for ourselves what Islam has done to the lives and the political systems of Muslim countries, we who live in free democracies have a duty to criticize and scrutinize Islam. If our criticism inspires Muslims to reform, then it will have achieved an honorable goal.

As it is practiced today, Islam is the problem, not the solution.

BOOK: The Devil We Don't Know
5.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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